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Hyundai Motor, Aptiv team up for $4b joint venture on self-driving technology

South Korean auto giant Hyundai Motor Group has teamed up with Aptiv, formerly known as Delphi, for a $4 billion joint venture to develop autonomous technology, the companies said Monday.

The joint venture between the world’s fifth-largest carmaker and the world’s leading software developer of autonomous vehicles is a “rare case,” Hyundai said, adding that the two will have 50 percent of shares each.

Under the deal, the Seoul-based carmaker expects to make a bold move in future mobility and to consolidate Hyundai’s position as “a pathfinder in the field of autonomous technology,” breaking from its previous position as a fast-follower, the company said in a statement.

The group’s three subsidiaries -- Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors and Hyundai Mobis -- will inject a combined $1.6 billion in cash and $400 million worth of engineering services, research and development capability and intellectual property rights. 

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chairman Chung Euisun test-drives Hyundai’s autonomous vehicle in Las Vegas in 2017. (Hyundai Motor)
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chairman Chung Euisun test-drives Hyundai’s autonomous vehicle in Las Vegas in 2017. (Hyundai Motor)

Aptiv, for its part, will invest its self-driving technologies, intellectual property rights and 700 engineers for software solution development worth a total of $2 billion, Hyundai said.

The joint venture between the Korean and US companies will be fully launched in 2020 by setting up an organizational structure including the board. The head office will be set up in Boston, after obtaining administrative approval, with a separate R&D unit to be launched in Seoul.

“The cooperation (with Aptiv) aims to commercialize self-driving technology that would revolutionize human life and their experience. We are going to take an important journey together,” said Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chairman Chung Euisun.

“I am convinced that combining capacities of Aptiv and Hyundai Motor Group will create synergy to take the lead in the global ecosystem of autonomous technology.”

The high-profile corporate tie-up aims to develop software for highly automated and safe mobility equivalent to autonomous level 4 and 5.

The timeline of joint operations includes completing the development of a self-driving platform by 2022, and ultimately, the commercialization of such technology that would set a standard for new services, such as robo taxis.

The venture is open to participation by other players in the field of autonomous technology, the company said, hinting at additional partnership with operators of 5G networks and local developers of artificial intelligence.

Asked about possible partnerships with Samsung and SK -- which have keen interest in AI development and next-generation network services -- the company said, “Nothing has been confirmed yet, but the plan is open to anyone.”

Aptiv, a Boston-based company with regional bases in US cities and Singapore, is a leader in software algorithms, computing platforms and cognitive systems.

It was spun off from Delphi in 2017 to focus on future mobility. Its acquisition of startups ottomatika and nuTonomy in 2015 and 2017, respectively, has brought its capability in technology to the next level, according to Hyundai.

“This partnership further strengthens Aptiv’s industry-leading capabilities in the development of advanced driver assistance systems, vehicle connectivity solutions, and smart vehicle architecture,” said Kevin Clark, president and CEO of Aptiv.

“Hyundai Motor Group’s cutting-edge engineering and R&D capabilities make them our partner of choice to advance the development of a production-ready autonomous platform.”

By Cho Chung-un (